Foundation in Focus: New Albany donors providing coronavirus assistance

LYNNE REDGRAVE
Lynne Redgrave

As chairwoman of the New Albany Community Foundation Grant Committee, I have been amazed at the generosity displayed by our community during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 has affected lives in many ways. For some families, it has brought challenges and significant hardship as people deal with job loss and lack of health care. Others are experiencing food insecurity as they try to make ends meet. Many students were not equipped technologically for online learning.

Thankfully, hundreds of New Albany families and businesses responded with compassion and generosity during this unprecedented situation.

Foundation donors made the following possible:

* $60,000 to the New Albany-Plain Local School District to help with students' food insecurity, Wi-Fi access, mental-health counseling or emerging needs.

* $47,500 to the New Albany Food Pantry, which has experienced an increase of almost 300% during the pandemic. Nearly 200 students and 75 school district families receive regular support from the pantry. This represents a weekly increase of 35% in participation.

* $10,000 to the Well-Being Connection, which provides mental-health resources to the community.

* $10,000 in grants to organizations making PPE shields and equipment for health-care providers, first responders and the school district. These have included Form5 Prosthetics Inc. and school district robotics teams.

* A $20,000 grant to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund of the Columbus Foundation, which is supporting several initiatives aimed at helping the most vulnerable throughout central Ohio.

Meanwhile, donations to the community foundation's COVID-19 Assistance Fund were matched dollar for dollar up to $25,000 by Huntington National Bank.

I am pleased to report that through generous foundation donors, we surpassed the Huntington $25,000 match. We appreciate Huntington's leadership and community support.

Through the foundation, Facebook has donated $37,900 for a new box truck for food-pantry deliveries, $24,000 to the robotics team to help make PPE shields and $50,000 to the COVID-19 Assistance Fund. Thank you, Facebook.

We are grateful to all the families and businesses who have come together to help neighbors in need.

As the school year draws to a close and we celebrate the class of 2020, the district's focus will turn toward planning to reopen next school year.

The No. 1 priority will be protecting students and staff members.

This will require instituting significant safety and hygiene protocols, such as portable hand-washing stations and masks for students and members of the faculty, administration and staff.

The district also anticipates a greater need for mental-health counseling, food assistance and scholarships for extracurricular activities so no students are denied those opportunities, as permissible.

Foundation donors have expressed their desire to help the school district ensure the safety of the students and staff through the pandemic.

As such, the foundation will continue to encourage and accept donations to the COVID-19 Assistance Fund at columbusfoundation.org.

Together, we will get through this and emerge stronger as a community.

Lynne Redgrave is a member of the New Albany Community Foundation board of trustees and chairwoman of the foundation's grant committee.